Apple could be planning a giant, foldable MacBook that doubles as your iPad

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 Lid
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple’s foldable plans consist of just one device for the future, according to a well-known leaker – the company is working on a MacBook to this end, but not any kind of foldable iPad or iPhone.

This is a rumor from one of the more consistent sources out there, Apple-wise, namely analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Although we should always be wary of what’s effectively gossip on the grapevine, particularly when it comes to devices that are a long way out.

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As you can see in Kuo’s above post on X (formerly Twitter), the claim is the latest info from sources is that Apple’s only foldable device which has concrete development plans is a 20.3-inch MacBook. (Another leaker in the thread notes it’s actually a 20.25-inch foldable, as per previous rumors, but that’s splitting hairs really).

We mentioned the potential MacBook being a long way out, and Kuo believes it won’t enter mass production until 2027. And if later in that year, this could mean enough volume of units isn’t around for a launch until early 2028, possibly.

A foldable MacBook in this context means a laptop that’s one big screen that folds up. All notebooks are foldable, of course, but normally have a screen and keyboard deck – in the case of the latter, a foldable such as that planned by Apple would run with a virtual touch keyboard.

A young professional working on a Apple MacBook Air 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: Hold ‘em or fold ‘em?

In the above tweet, Kuo was responding to queries about whether Apple is going to make a foldable iPhone or iPad perhaps as soon as next year, or 2026, and is obviously pouring a whole lot of cold water on that idea.

It’s only a foldable laptop which is currently planned, if the leaker is right. And if we take that at face value, even though plans can change, this is a clear indication any kind of foldable phone or iPad is a good way out and not coming for 2025.

This gets a bit of extra weight seeing as it chimes with other recent speculation that Apple has been beavering away developing a foldable but that it’s a “larger device,” which would rule out the foldable iPhone notion. Indeed, a foldable MacBook was claimed to be inbound for 2027 some two years ago, so this could be the same device still in the works, and roughly on target.

It feels like a long development time, of course, but this is a tricky project to get right. Particularly seeing as by all accounts, Apple has been a stickler when it comes to the quality of a foldable display – entirely the right attitude to take in our books.

Obviously making the fold work well is the thorny problem – and having the mechanism be robust enough and durable over time so as not to cause issues. And with Apple products always shooting for a premium appearance, it’ll also be paramount that however the folding happens looks suitably seamless. All of which will need to be achieved without a prohibitive cost level. (Even though, obviously, the first foldable MacBook, when – indeed if – it arrives will be a very pricey piece of kit).

What we might ultimately receive is a seriously portable laptop that unfolds into a massive screen for when it’s needed – we envisage standing it up to watch movies or YouTube clips using the entire display, for example, so it’s basically a giant tablet (an iPad with macOS, if you will). But then you’ve got a virtual keyboard for when the device is used as a traditional laptop. That could be an issue, of course, as most folks aren’t keen on using a virtual keyboard for typing.

Mind you, an external keyboard could be hooked up as an alternative when at your desk, of course. And with haptics and other tech advances, it’s possible Apple could achieve something that feels close enough to a real typing experience on a touchscreen, and we’d imagine that’s another high-priority project goal.

Skeptics are doubtful that this could be successfully realized, and we fully get where they are coming from. However, it seems Apple is seriously exploring this concept at the very least, based on the consistent rumors piped through over the past couple of years (and further back than that, even). Whether all this R&D may come to nothing in the end, though, is still entirely possible (cough – Apple Car – cough).

Via Wccftech

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).